Godflesh – Streetcleaner.

Godflesh released in 1989 what is technically their 2nd album. It was their first album for Earache after a low-key E.P. / album released via Birmingham Independent Record Shop Swordfish.

Streetcleaner is the best album by Godflesh. It walks many musical genres and is difficult to pin down. It’s a wild beast of a record.

Godflesh were essentially two men playing brutal distorted very heavy metal. The pace is so slow that at times it warps into heavy hypnotic psychedelia. Accompanied by a pounding relentless drum machine the band are near machine. At gigs you would often see a divide. Those that were bemused and those that totally got it and got drawn into a serious sonic assault.

Justin Broadrick and G. Christian Green are occasionally joined by Paul Neville on Streetcleaner. Broadrick was instrumental in the rise of Napalm Death and left as that band were beginning to take-off. One can only imagine how devastating Napalm Death may have become had he stayed. This does not detract from Godflesh at all. They are in ways a very different band with deathly dark musical imagery.

Like Rats bleeds out of your speakers. It has an industrial edge. Pounding electronic drums. Slight chord changes as it dips and rises stronger and stronger.

Christbait Rising is slower. A clean ticking drum machine is engulfed with locked guitar and bass. This sound then holds off before coming back with even more power. It then winds around. Imagery of an abandoned warehouse paint aurally. A great piece of music.

Pulp rattles with precision. A processional drum machine. Distant vocals morph into screams.

Dream Long Dead has a nightmare tone. Screeching guitar. It holds off and pulls you along like a lassoed victim. It lifts with a very heavy sound. The rattling rises and judders.

Head Dirt is angular. There’s a lot of space in the music now. The album does develop although this may be lost on some and dismissed as samey. Long streaks of harrowing feedback. Godflesh move into Whitehouse territory.

Devastator shifts Streetcleaner into another gear. Akin to Scum by Napalm Death the album has a different feel for each side. Samples and more exhausting slight feedback. Broadrick begins a distant chant as the samples lock over each other. It bleeds fantastically well into…

Mighty Trust Crusher brutal pounding. Slower than slow. The track attempts to break free from (and break) your speakers.

Life Is Easy is probably my favourite track on Streetcleaner. Deep bass. Not many tracks by any band sound like this. Dark. Dismissive. Powerful. With no clear message you just feel the frustration. It is very well executed. I’m losing the ability to describe it. Do listen to it.

Streetcleaner offers a fitting sample. The album has become very dark and now speeds back up with that rattle. Industrial. Near dark techno. It’s just Hardcore, albeit a vein of Hardcore we’ve never quite been exposed to before.

Locust Furnace is the final track. Forget the re-master. Who needs re-masters anyway. Serving to sum up the whole album it offers shades of all that has gone before. A vocal that rises and rises.

Streetcleaner is a very strong album and respect is due to Justin Broadrick for going with his instincts. Influences are clear. Big Black. Whitehouse. Swans. Godflesh do make the sound their own and their own take on Industrial sounds are unique and manage to conjure up images of Inner Cities in ways many bands have tried but failed…

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